An Examination of the Relationship Among Goal Acceptance, Goal Commitment and Performance: A Comparative Study of Job Levels in Selected Banks in the Northeast

Date of Submission


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science in Management Systems (Sc.D.)




Lynn W. Ellis

Committee Member

Judith A. Neal

Committee Member

William Pan

LC Subject Headings

Goal(Psychology), Bank employees--Northeastern States, Employee motivation, Performance

Call No. at the Univ. of New Haven Library

AS 36. N290 Mgmt. Syst. 1991 no.1


Goal setting has been found to be one of the most robust motivational techniques in the organizational behavior literature. However, most of the research conducted to date has, been done in researcher-manipulated environments. The present research, which focused on the relationships among goal acceptance, goal commitment, and performance, tested many of the concepts of goal-setting theory in a natural field setting. The population studied consisted of 177 branch managers, customer service representatives, and tellers of two super-regional banks in the Northeast.

The overall findings of this study were not strongly supportive of the impact on task performance of the many variables commonly associated with goal setting. Neither goal acceptance, participation in the goal-setting process, nor goal specificity was found to have any significant direct impact on the task performance of the groups studied. Both goal commitment and goal difficulty were found to have statistically significant correlations with task performance, but at such low levels their direct impact on task performance can only be described as weak.

In general, the lack of support in the present research for the goal-setting theory developed primarily through researcher-manipulated conditions suggests the need for much more research in natural field settings.

Major contributions of this study include: This study was one of the first natural field studies which (1) examined the impact of goal-setting variables on task performance; (2) demonstrated that goal acceptance and goal commitment, while strongly related, are distinguishable concepts; (3) examined whether levels of goal acceptance and goal commitment vary with respect to job satisfaction; and (4) demonstrated the need for a reexamination of the Porter et al. (1974) "Organizational Commitment Questionnaire" to determine the number of underlying factors it measures. Additionally, this study is believed to have been the first study to (1) seek to validate the operational definition: Goal Commitment = Effort = Expectancy 1 x Expectancy 2 x Valence; (2) examine whether levels of goal acceptance and goal commitment vary with respect to job level; (3) examine the relationship between organizational commitment and goal commitment; and (4) examine demographic differences with respect to goal commitment.